After being sidelined for training camp and preseason following back surgery, J.J. Watt practiced for the first time on Monday. His teammates were happy to see the four-time All-Pro defensive end ready to go for Week 1 against the Chicago Bears.
"No question," Brian Cushing said. "Obviously if he can play, it's going to help us tremendously. Look forward to him being back and he can help us big time."
Watt, who had a herniated disc removed from his back, was placed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list prior to the start of camp while he rehabbed. While there was no clear timetable for his return, Watt said he didn't plan on missing his first regular season game in five years.
On Sunday, Watt passed his physical and was medically cleared to practice.
"Nothing surprises me about J.J. or anybody else for that matter in the locker room," Whitney Mercilus said. "We know he's a hard-working guy so we know his motivation was to get back as soon as possible so he did it."
Duane Brown, who has been rehabbing from quadriceps surgery, worked alongside Watt with the team's doctors and athletic trainers during camp. The starting left tackle has also been putting in the work to soon return to the practice field. To have the return of a starter like Watt can impact the game in multiple ways, according to Brown.
"He's a great leader for us," Brown said. "He's a guy that kind of sets the tempo for how the game is being played so to have him out there from an energy standpoint, there's mental, physical, spiritual standpoint, it means a lot."
The Texans open the 2016 regular season at home against the Chicago Bears. Kickoff is set for noon CT on FOX-26 and SportsRadio 610.
Check out photos from Monday's indoor practice.